Working in partnership and in groups is a major part of family and kids yoga. By working with other people, we learn a lot about ourselves and develop important social skills that help us relate to others and learn more about ourselves.
By doing poses together, we learn how to touch, how to be gentle and kind, we learn acceptance and compassion, how to be respectful and trusting, and how to connect, communicate, and cooperate.
It’s a great opportunity to open the heart and overcome past conflicts, as well as create new friendships.
Tips for Teaching Partner and Group Yoga
Partner and group poses should always feel good to all participants. Move slowly and mindfully with each other and speak up if you need to adjust the pose or have less or more pressure/tension in the pose.
- Sometimes there is this awkward moment when the teacher asks the class to partner up.
- Sometimes kids don’t know whom to partner with or are too shy to approach someone else.
- Sometimes kids will always partner with the same friend or a little argument will erupt because one kid has a few good friends that all want to partner with him or her.
So to make partner yoga for kids easier, help everyone to find a partner by trying the following techniques:
1. Sizing Up
Although most partner and group poses can be adjusted to fit people of different sizes (which sometimes can differentiate a lot), some partner or group poses, especially the acrobatic ones, are more easily done if the partners are of a similar size or if the flyer is lighter/smaller than the base.
In these cases, you can then ask everyone to line up by height, from the shortest to the tallest (you can say instead “small” to “tall” or “elves” to “trees”) and divide them into pairs or groups from there.
2. Active Partnering
Guide the children to partner with someone who has similar hair color, similar length of hair, similar height as yours, similar fingers or toes, similar eye color, similar length of hair, similar height as yours, same favorite cuisine, same favorite ice-cream flavor, same super hero or cartoon figure etc.
Or conversely, you can guide them to partner with someone who was born at a different place then them or who has a different color hair, or a different color shirt, pants, etc.
Giving cues makes partnering more active and fun, and we get to know each other more! Much better than just saying “grab a partner!”
3. Groups Of
Another fun way to divide into groups is to have everyone walk randomly in the space and then call out “walk in groups of three,” “groups of five,” “groups of two,” “groups of one.”
You can also dance instead of walk, or do this exercise with a theme like ocean or birds, and have the groups move like waves or school of fish or dolphins etc. to music that fits the theme.
You can also guide the groups to move while connected to each other by their thighs or their backs or the tops of their heads etc. – these games make dividing into groups a million times more fun!
When you have created the groups you wanted, you can stop the game and start the next activity you planned
4. Eye Gazing Circle
Note: This exercise is for ages 10 and up
- Divide the group in the middle and have half the group hold hands and form an inner circle facing the outside, and the other half of the group hold hands and form an outer circle facing inside.
- Ask the participants in each circle to look into the eyes of the people in the circle in front of them
- Have both circles rotate very slowly in opposite directions (so either both circles move to their right or both circles move to the left) still looking straight into the eyes of the different people in front of them as they move.
- Gradually have the circles turn faster and faster and after a minute or two, come to a halt.
- Hug the person in front of you…they are your partner for the next activity.
Now you have the group completely rearranged and ready for new adventures!
These are all great exercises for when you feel that the group is not homogeneous and that the students are clustered in little groups and do not mix enough with others.
If there is a child who is aggressive or careless and you fear he might hurt someone, partner with him or be a part of the group he is with, or have another adult do that. This will do more than just protect other children…the connection with you is sure to transform that child.
Now that you are all partnered together, be creative, let it flow and enjoy! It is always more fun to do yoga together!
Image Credit: Rainbow Kids Yoga